Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee


Anandam - the new hope of LGBT peoples

There was a time when people looked 'THEM' strolling aimlessly, toiling without hope and destination, THEY cannot afford to be themselves. THEY had dreams and had no light to show them way. THEY were perpetual 'others', who must be barred to enter the sacred arena, THEY must not be even discussed. That's how they lived.

Being in the sex work profession, we know sexual orientation does not determine a person's virtue or evilness or in other word penetrative heterosexuality is not the only natural form of human sexuality (researches reveal it is equally true for any primate). So judging man/woman solely based on their sexual orientation is erroneous and oppressive. In sense LGBT people live a more stigmatized and marginalized life than ours. After we established DMSC, they started approaching us. At first they were few and we could accommodate them though informally within our platform. But in due course of time as Durbar grew and was able to successfully change the social norms around safe sex and sex workers, more and more of 'THEM' gathered around Durbar. It seemed Durbar is equally the Light House to them. Truly speaking we also came to know how severely stigmatized and oppressed they are! In Durbar we decided besides fighting for the rights and recognition of sex workers we must stand by the LGBT people, for sexual orientation has nothing to do with unnaturality or crime.

Thus we started to form mobilize mainly male sex workers and transgenders, it was late nineties. This was culminated in establishing their formal organization Anandam in 2007. Presently the organization has 300 members. With Anandam it is possible for the LGBT groups for the first time to come forward leaving all inhibitions and sense of guilt. Just like sex workers, they are now redefining their identity.

Anandam has conducted a survey on 'Violence on male sex workers and transgenders' and is going to organize a workshop involving media, intellectuals and government officials to raise their public profile and people's perception.The main objectives of the organization are

Equal rights and opportunities for LGBT groups

Working towards self reliant of LGBT groups by ensuring right and dignity

Developing awareness of LGBT groups on their rights

Sensitizing general people to change their perception towards LGBT groups

Fact finding and documentation

Legal aid and counseling, skill development and vocational training

Income generation programme and fundraising


The organization will work in tandem with Durbar on socio-political and economic issues relevant to LGBT and broader society. It's going to be the new wing of sex workers' movement which will usher new hopes for the sexually minorities.



Amra Padatik - the children are now marching with their mothers

Amra Padatik is an organization of the children of sex workers of West Bengal. It was established at Kolkata, in the autumn of 2006. Perhaps it is the first such attempt in the world. They are fighting stigma and discrimination against the sex worker community, because like their mothers they also have to face the same stigma and discrimination. They are in the process of recasting their identity as sex workers' children, which their mothers have accomplished some years ago. They are working for the establishment of human and labour rights of their mothers. Many of the young ones who are in the leadership of Amra Padatikhave not yet completed their school education. Yet their aims and objectives indicate that they are quite advanced in their thought, thanks to their schooling in life. Since they are young and inexperienced Durbar coaches them in the art of developing organization.


The aims of Amra Padatik are:

Establishing the rights and dignity of the marginalized people and their children in the world through social and political change. Amra Padatik has firmly resolved to develop the social status and standard of living of all the sex worker communities of the world and their children by being a part of this world wide movement.

These aims can be achieved by engaging in the efforts:

To transform the outlook and attitudes of people towards the marginalized communities and their children.

To strengthen the struggle for attainment of self-respect by the sex-workers and their children.

To change the unjust and illogical activities, laws, customs and norms that surround the profession of sex workers.

To oppose all kinds of exploitation and oppression of the sex workers and their children.

To unite the children of sex workers and to empower them by enhancing their capabilities.

To challenge the power-based relations that exist within and outside the profession of the sex workers.

To establish relations with different individuals, groups, organizations and movements.

Further, they have the following ethical principles for strengthening their organization

Respect

Respect for sex workers and for their work.

Reliance

Reliance upon the feelings and ideas of sex workers and their children.

Recognition

Recognition of sex work as work.

Commitment

Commitment to the organization, to work.

Honesty and Transparency

Honesty and Transparency in organizational work in the case of building relations with other human beings.


Saathi Sangathan - Babus in defense of sex workers

when my dear one is marching forward, how can I afford to stand still, we will jointly achieve our objective as I am equally a fallen in the eyes of our society' ….a babu asserting his participation in sex workers' movement.

In their profession, sex workers do not live alone. They usually are in search of permanent partners and give birth to children. At times babus are inseparable and indispensable part of sex workers' life and identity. Sometimes a sex worker has no one other than her babu to fall back on for security or to raise children. But babus are notorious for their brutality and unkindness. So after DMSC came into existence in 1995, we started to deliberate how to make them march along with us. It was evident direct confrontation would not work. We took another way - we started advocacy with them. By 1997, it was clear - the necessity and benefit of DMSC. In a meeting in 1997, we proposed collectivization of babus and it was enthusiastically by all.

An informal collectivization was started. It was first deemed that only the babus could be the members, but later it was decided any male member of the community can be the member, though it is primarily composed of the babus of sex workers. As with the DMSC, Sathi Sangathan also had to face suspicion and rejection from the babus. They were apprehensive of further loosing their control. But due to persistent advocacy and campaign we started gaining a foothold among the babus. They can now see the benefit of such an organization. It was formally registered in 2004. At present the Saathi Sangathan is working in all the areas where Durbar is working, though the membership is yet to be substantial. The organization charges a paltry fee for membership and mainly supported by Durbar.

Besides helping the sex workers to cope up the stress and harassments, it is also to fight the stigma and discrimination against the sex worker community. They volunteer in STI clinics. They take part in campaigns and demonstrations, and always stand by the sex workers in their fight against violence. They conduct regular meetings in fields and are striving to strengthen sex workers' movement. They are now inseparable part of sex workers' movement.


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